The Importance of Reading and Literacy: Grim Statistics and How to Help Your Kids
Let’s start with some shocking facts about reading and literacy in the U.S. according to research.
1) Between 1993 and 2003:
– the average ‘prose literacy’ decreased for adults at most levels of educational attainment
– the average ‘document literacy’ decreased for those with some college and associate’s/college graduates (1)
2) Adults at the lowest levels of literacy are:
– 10 times more likely to be living below the poverty line
– 3 times more likely to receive food stamps (2)
3) 14% = percentage of adults in the U.S. who are illiterate (3)
4) 2.25 million people a year = number of ‘functionally illiterate adults’ increases by each year (4)
5) 42 million = number of adult Americans who can’t read (4)
6) 50 million = number of adults who can recognize so few printed words that they are limited to a 4th/5th grade reading level (4)
7) 1 in 4 teens drops out of high school (4)
8) 1 in 4 teens who graduate has the equivalent or less of an eighth grade education (4)
While these numbers are staggering and do not bode well for reading and literacy in the United States as a whole, it is not cause for alarm to pull your child out of his or her current school. We have got some terrific schools in the Phoenix area filled with teachers and administrators doing the right things to help our kids in reading, writing, math, and more.
What do these reading and literacy stats mean for me?
It is important to take note of these numbers and look for ways to improve your child’s literacy abilities. Many kids only like to “write” when texting friends on their smart phone. While this should not be banned, it is not likely to improve the important reading or writing skills that will support them through college and beyond into the career world.
As a teacher of adults online and an HR manager with Student-Tutor, I cannot tell you the number of adult students and tutor applicants I see using poor vocabulary and grammar. Students lose significant points on assignments and tutors get passed over for the job without even getting to show their talents.
Success in the increasingly competitive job market has no room for those who cannot present their ideas and arguments in a clear, professional way through written prose.
And while schools are doing their best to strengthen our kids’ reading and overall literacy levels, it is my personal opinion that we need to encourage and support kids outside the classroom as well.
What action should I take?
So have your kids put down the video game, shut Facebook messages off, and pick up a good book that challenges their minds and stretches their imaginations.
Use the great tool AR Book Finder to support this! It is a free online search tool that allows you to find interesting books for your kids to read sorted by grade level, topic, and/or appropriate reading level. Your kids will be drawn to reading like magnets to a refrigerator!
Here are concrete steps you can take to get your kid started on reading and literacy goals with AR Book Finder:
Step 1: Sit down with your kids and explain to them the importance (and fun) of reading.
Step 2: Use AR Book Find to discover an appropriate book that fits your child’s:
– Rating of book based on violence, mature content, language, etc. called “Interest Level”
– Reading level of book based on grade or ability called “ATOS Book level”
– Preferred genre of book (adventure, romance, sports, etc.) called “Additional criteria”
Step 3: Use our FREE “Star Reader Game Board” tool to help motivate your kids to read. For every x amount of pages read they gain points to get to a prize you two decide on! Click here to get the FREE “Star Reader Game Board” READING TOOL.
Step 4: Repeat the process and your child will grow in his/her reading and literacy skills, which will lead to increased success in grade school, college, and beyond!
AR BOOK FIND IN ACTION: (See below for screenshot examples of the tool)
In sum, AR Book Finder allows you to search by grade level or topic to find appropriate level reading books for your kids! Reading and literacy are two sides of the same coin. Use this resource to help you and your kids select their next written adventure!
They will thank you later (just hopefully not via text).
Here again is the fun, game-like tool to help encourage your younger kids to read! Your kids (a.k.a. Star Readers) earn points for accomplishing mini-goals you both agree upon for reading and then can win the prize at the end. We use this tool often with our tutoring clients who need help with motivation. FREE to you!
BONUS PARENT TIP:
Quiz your kids on SAT vocabulary words. A strong vocabulary is one of the main keys to SAT Test success!
1: per the National Center for Education Statistics, 2012
2: according to Education Portal. (Scrabbling for higher literacy rates – CollegiateTimes.com)
3: National Center for Education Statistics
4: National Adult Learning Survey